A heart for Catholic schools and a ‘Heart of the School’


“Catholic schools: where my heart has been my whole life.”

These words of Kathy Gleich, teacher at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School (SEAS) in Hastings, illustrate why she was nominated for this year’s Heart of the School Award.

From first grade as a student in Catholic elementary school in Rochester to her current position teaching religion and life skills at SEAS, Gleich has a long history of involvement with Catholic schools. In recognition of this, the faculty, staff, students, families and parishioners at SEAS nominated her for the Heart of the School Award. The award was created to recognize those who represent the school’s spirit and mission and who embody its core values of spirituality, excellence, academics and service.

Gleich, who’s been at SEAS for 33 years, exemplifies the value of spirituality by her love for the Catholic faith and her vocational approach to teaching.

She “helps [students] build their relationship with the Lord,” said Principal Tim Sullivan. “She makes sure everyone knows their Catholic faith and has the foundation to use it.”

Gleich sees teaching as a vocation to “minister to the faith of Christ” and “form young hearts and minds.”

She recognizes that her motherhood translates into her teaching and sees the Catholic school as an extension of the family.

Gleich’s vocation comes through in the small, extra special things she does every day: coming in early, pleasantly greeting every student by name, being approachable by, as she says, “giving the impression I would do anything I possibly can,” and staying in touch with students after they graduate.

One former student, Thomas Eberson, now a sophomore in college, testifying to her excellence as a teacher, wrote, “From my point of view, for her it was always about helping each student become the best person that they could be in all aspects of life. … She lives to see her students succeed.”

Eberson also noted Gleich’s passion for teaching.

“Almost everything I learned about the Catholic faith from Mrs. Gleich has come into play one way or another. Whether it was to better explain the Catholic faith to friends or strengthen my own ties, I could always remember the teachings from that classroom,” he wrote.

Much of this teaching occurs in her religion classes as well as her popular Friday open forum classes where she gathers with students to talk about their questions and concerns, the Catholic faith and broader Church and world events.

Both inside and outside of the classroom, Gleich’s “concern for the students pours out,” Sullivan said.

This concern for the students, as well as her general helpfulness to the rest of the staff, clearly exemplifies one of SEAS’ core values: service.

Not only does Gleich spearhead middle school service projects with Feed My Starving Children, Sharing and Caring Hands and the Sharing Bell water project, but she also exhibits a genuine desire to serve her colleagues.

As Sullivan explained, she is constantly asking, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

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